Reflections on the Process — Chiwan Choi


Thoughts on the Disarticulation Process

chiwan choi

Over the years, the one thing that I have never been able to prepare for while setting out on a writing project is the element of life, the surprises it brings upon you, the chaos/sadness/joy that comes unexpectedly. It affects the way I work, what I wanted to say, how much time I have to say it. And it was no different this time. While in the middle of this project, so many Life things occurred that took my time and energy and focus away. All these things are challenges in themselves, but having to write, to speak, with words dictated by someone else’s prompt, then ultimately, using only a limited amount of words that have been given to you by someone else, really frustrated me. Which led to the questions—What are words? Who do they belong to? What does it mean to be constrained? Do words equal privilege? Do words equal identity? And ultimately, who am I speaking for when we are assigning sequences to shared vocabulary?


May dis•articulations poem — Chiwan Choi

At the beginning of the month, Chiwan gave Terry four prompts. She engaged in fevered writing with each of them and gave the results to Chiwan, who then used the words from that fevered writing to create this dis•articulations poem.

way of answering

who are we
that they kill us

redefines us
as motor oil and blood

don’t we remember
one must be young

a mirror that cannot imagine
thinking meant having ideas

the lip split
mutating faster than we can understand

that we are
past her future

our imaginations

like cheekbones
and a vengeful god

drink to forget
dancing on the graves

all wrong
and not so pretty now

we’re the residue
of the sacrificial lambs

signing up for a past

while pretending
no one cares
that they kill us
because they can

May Fevered Writing — Chiwan Choi

This month’s collaborating poet, Chiwan Choi, produced the following fevered writing based on four prompts given him by Terry Wolverton:

Man punches bear to protect his pet Chihuahua.
And here’s a partial list of things this brave man didn’t protect: Tamir Rice. Freddie Gray. The handmade shacks in Nepal. My grandmother during her final days when we had to write her name on all her clothes so she wouldn’t forget. Another person jumping from a downtown window during lunch hour. 214 pregnant girls. My bones that keep bending.

Home of child goddess unshaken while everything crumbles around it, but what does it mean to be blessed when all the walls that you’d embedded your memories into – the welt that the man from the church left of your 15 year old arm; the only photo from mother’s youth, the one with the smile – is nothing more than a growing mountain that nameless people gather around, mourn blindly, walk away from toward a newer tragedy.

If he says he’s woman, he’s a woman.
And if he says I am ugly, I am ugly. If he says let there be light, the darkness crawls out of bed and leaves me without a goodbye. If he says you were a mistake, there are many alleys with mouths open to swallow. If he says he’s a woman, what is my mother? If he says he is leaving, if he says you haven’t tried hard enough, if he says stop by and eat, where do I find enough air?

To pimp a butterfly is no greater than holding my hands open in front of me to catch the rain. Nobody asks me what is my goodness. we assume thirst when we have waited in the sun for an April mercy. To begin a sentence that stops your heart in the middle of a sidewalk as three young people drop their childhoods on the cement and run past you is no greater than water drop on your skin.

Readers who are contemplating writing your own poems may work with just the prompts or choose to use one or more passages of fevered writing to inspire your poems. Best Reader poem we receive in May will win a $25 prize.

May Collaborating Poet — Chiwan Choi


In May, Chiwan Choi will collaborate with Terry Wolverton on new dis•articulations poems.

Chiwan Choi is the author of two poetry collections, The Flood and Abductions. He is also a partner at Writ Large Press, a DTLA based press focused on experimentations in publishing.